FNP vs DNP & FNP vs NP

Choosing the perfect degree for enhanced nursing education could open the door for many opportunities. Numerous programs exist. Nearly all require a student to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before they are able to take a master’s degree or doctoral degree. In this post we will go over the difference between different nursing programs: FNP vs DNP & FNP vs NP.

Here is a look at some variations of degrees available. While all typically focus on patient care, each has its own area of interest or type of care provided. Choosing the perfect nursing degree often means focusing on the type of work a person desires to do.

FNP vs DNP Programs

What is an FNP?

A Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is one course option. This is a master’s level degree. Students with this degree typically focus on career paths in which they provide lifespan care. That is, they may provide care for people from infants through seniors. There are areas of focus in this field, but many may be more focused on providing care in a family practice setting.

What is a DNP in nursing?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is A doctoral degree program. This is a terminal degree. That is typically the last educational program level for students studying nursing. It may differ significantly from an FNP because it provides more of a leadership and management focus. While an FNP is often focused on patient care, A DNP is typically focused on managing a nursing program. They may make more decisions about health care systems and policy. An FNP may offer some leadership within the practice, but their primary objective is to provide a high level of care to the patient.

FNP vs NP Programs

What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?

NPs are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN)s. Typically, NPs have a special focus with their career. This is some area of focus they have. This may include nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, acute care providers, or mental health. FNPs typically provide care to people of all ages. They typically cover a patient’s needs from infant through senior, providing for many services. This may include preventative care, diagnostic of illness or injury, and treatment of conditions

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) program is slightly different than an FNP program. They often have the same level of care. Both are master’s degree programs as well. Yet, there may be some differences in what duties each performs.

NPs may concentrate in areas such as the elderly, pediatrics, or women’s health. That is not always the case – sometimes, the focus is on a specific area of health such as oncology. Both of these providers may offer a high level of education and degree program experience and skills. FNPs typically work in a family medical practice, in hospitals, or in private practice. NPs may work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and many other locations.

What classes may I take in an Online FNP Program?

When completing an online FNP program, the courses taken range based on interest, and school requirements. Many schools have a set of requirements students must complete. Here is a look at some of the classes commonly found in programs broken down by degree level.

Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Classes

Students may begin their nursing school education with A bachelor’s degree. Earning a Bachelor in Science in Nursing may not qualify a study to practice as an FNP. Some of those courses may include:

1st course Community Health Nursing

Community Health Nursing

In this class, students may gain an understanding of the needs of communities and society when it comes to health and healthcare. These students may gain a knowledge of public health science and assessing as it relates to the field of nursing.

2nd course Nursing Leadership and Management

Nursing Leadership and Management

In this class, students may have an introduction in applying organizational skills and leadership into their work. These tools aim to aid in the decision making process not only when working with the patients but for the overall good of the clinic or hospital in which the prospective student may work.

3rd Course Nursing of Older Adults

Nursing of Older Adults

This course may focus on nursing and how to care for aging adults. The students may get an introduction into gerontology. The students may learn how to deal with clinical work in a variety of settings while taking this class.

4th Course Nursing Research

Nursing Research

This class aims to focus on the basic elements of nursing research. The student may learn how research relates to being a nurse. The course may also introduce students to using these skills in making decisions and at a clinical practice.

FNP Courses

After completion of A bachelor’s degree, students may work on their FNP master’s degree program. The courses in A master’s degree program may include the following:

1st course Advanced Pathophysiology

Advanced Pathophysiology

In this course, the students may analyze and apply responses to pathophysiologic mechanisms and the corresponding conditions. This may include responses that are both abnormal and normal. The student could also look at evaluations of the responses.

2nd course Advanced Physical Assessment

Advanced Physical Assessment

In this course, the student may gain a broader knowledge of health assessment. The student may develop techniques for assessing by using medical history and medical exams in order to make determinations.

3rd Course Advanced Pharmacology Fundamentals

Advanced Pharmacology Fundamentals

In this course, students may learn about common prescription drugs. Parts of the class could cover the analysis and application of these drugs as well expanding the student’s overall knowledge of the principles of pharmacology.

4th Course Population Health, Epidemiology, and Statistical Principles

Population Health, Epidemiology, and Statistical Principles

In this course, students may look into population health, statistics and epidemiology. These principles may be analyzed and evaluated to help in drawing conclusions. The use of data and statistics may be used to help with decision making and how to best treat patients are also skills taught in this class.

What classes may I take in an Online DNP Program?

There may be specific classes required when completing an online DNP program. These classes may vary from school to school. Most often, the material is similar. The courses may allow for some concentration. Students may be able to select programs that better fit their interests and goals. Following are some of the basic classes with descriptions you may find when looking to complete the doctoral program.

An online DNP program is a doctorate program. This graduate program may only be available to those who have already completed a master’s level degree program. An FNP program may qualify.

1st course Advanced Health Care Policy

Advanced Health Care Policy

The purpose of this course is to teach students about the American healthcare system. The class often looks at the making of policies and their effectiveness. This class may also look at how the healthcare system is effected both politically and economically.

2nd course Foundations of Clinical Scholarship

Foundations of Clinical Scholarship

This is the base course of these programs and is often used to enhance and improve the student’s writing skills. This course may use sources not only related to nursing but other scholarly works as well. This course may rely on concept analysis with the use of different strategies.

3rd Course Ethics for Advanced Nursing Practice

Ethics for Advanced Nursing Practice

This course may present ethical principles within a nursing practice. There may also be a focus on decision making models throughout the course. Different sources may be used in the analysis of ethical dilemmas faced in a professional setting and in a practice.

4th Course Quality and Patient Safety in Advanced Nursing Practice

Quality and Patient Safety in Advanced Nursing Practice

The goal of this course is to provide students with the foundations of process improvement and quality improvement. The classes aims to focus on theory for patient safety as well as quality. There may be an emphasis on systems thinking.

What classes may I take in an Online NP Program?

A nurse practitioner (NP) program is a type of Advanced Practice registered Nurse (APRN) program. These individuals have typically already completed a bachelor’s program. The NP program is A master’s degree.

There are specific classes required for an online NP program. The specific courses vary based on the school and the student’s focus. Here is a look at some of the courses you may take.

1st course Advanced Physical Assessment

Advanced Physical Assessment

In this course, the student may gain a broader knowledge of health assessment. The student may develop techniques for assessing by using medical history and medical exams in order to make determinations.

2nd course Advanced Pharmacology

Advanced Pharmacology

This course often allows the students to better understand drugs and interactions. The students may learn how different drugs affect the body and how they work to treat the issues they do. The class may help to understand when and why to prescribe medications and at which dose so as to be the most effective.

3rd Course Advanced Health Care Policy

Advanced Health Care Policy

The purpose of this course is to teach students about the American healthcare system. The class often looks at the making of policies and their effectiveness. This class may also looks at how the healthcare system is effected both politically and economically.

4th Course Advanced Pathophysiology

Advanced Pathophysiology

In this course, the students may analyze and apply responses to pathophysiologic mechanisms and the corresponding conditions. This may include responses that are both abnormal and normal. The student may also look at evaluations of the responses.

Areas in an Online FNP Program

With an online FNP, students may focus in one or more areas. Your nursing education should reflect your areas of interest. Many FNP students focus in family medicine. However, others may want more specific areas of interest. Some examples may include:


Some FNP degrees may allow for focus on cardiology, or the study of the heart. This type of program may allow a student to learn preventative, diagnostic, and treatment options for a range of heart-related conditions. It may include topics such as vascular disease, electrophysiology, and cardiac health and performance.


The focus on dermatology is often the skin. This typically includes learning how to maintain healthy skin but also in areas such as diagnostic, testing, and treatment of various skin related conditions. Students may provide these services to infants through seniors.

Emergency Nursing:

A less common area of focus for an FNP is emergency nursing. This type of FNP program may allow a nurse to work in urgent care settings to provide emergency treatment to patients based on a wide range of needs they have.

Areas in an Online DNP Program

An online DNP program may provide a variety of opportunities for students for focus. Many people with A DNP could work in versatile settings. This may allow for more concentration than in other areas. Some options include:


A psychiatric nurse practitioner may treat and diagnose patients using various methods. These may include the use psychotherapy as well as physical evaluations. They primarily treat patients who are suffering from mental disorders. The position may mean dealing with families as well as individuals who are suffering. This could include dealing with addiction and providing the tools necessary for interventions.


Some of the skills learned and practiced when focusing in becoming a dermatology NP diagnosing and treating of dermatological issues in patients. They may also learn to treat and manage common and complex issues following a diagnosis.


As A pediatric nurse practitioner you may learn a number of skills regarding how to care for children as an FNP. Pediatric primary health might be the main focus, but other areas learned may be chronic illness care and treatment as well as treating adolescents. These may occur either in a practice or a clinic environment.

Areas in an Online NP Program

Another area with ample focus options are those with an NP degree. In this field, concentration is common. It may allow the student to provide advanced level education in areas that interest them. Some areas of focus may include:

Adult Gerontology:

When looking to become an adulty gerontology NP, you may learn and master a specific set of skills. Skills that you may learn are the treating of adults and elderly as well as treating of adolescents. Some areas where this specialty may work are internal medicine offices, specialty clinics, and rehab centers.


A neonatal nurse practitioner may primarily work with infants. This field often requires the conducting of research as well as collaborating with colleagues in order to draw conclusions. As this type of FNP, there may be a need to not only work with the patient but with the family of the patient as well. In many cases, the student may need to have previous experience working a neonatal unit of a hospital.

Women’s Health:

A women’s health nurse practitioner deals with health issues that are specific or primarily faced by women throughout their adult lives. In many cases this could include conducting physical exams, diagnosing and treating women patients. This may focus largely on areas such as obstetrics, gynecological issues, infertility and postpartum complications.

How long does it take to complete each program online?

Those working to earn a Master of Science in Nursing may expect to complete their program in 24 to 26 months, with some leeway. That includes for FNP and NP programs. A Doctorate degree program may take longer, depending on the course of study. Some are as short as 24 months. Many factors play a role in how long it takes a student to complete his or her education. Some students attend full time. That allows them to work through the course credits and coursework  generally quick. Some may even speed this up with an accelerated class or with summer programs. Others might need more time. Going to school part time may extend that completion time somewhat. It may make it possible to work or meet other obligations during the time, though.

Potential Career Paths for an FNP, DNP, NP

From working in private practice to helping make policy decisions for large networks, there may be many potential career path options for those with these degrees. All students likely need to complete the required education. Then, they must sit for the associated licensing exam. The certification exam allows for state licensure, another requirement for all nursing providers in the United States. Here is a look at some of the career options as noted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as well as the 2022 median annual salary and job growth.

Nurse Practitioner

Median Annual Salary in 2021: $125,900 per year
2022-32 Job Growth: 38%
Description: A pediatric nurse practitioner works primarily with children. They work in hospitals or in a pediatric practice. The primarily work with infants and children.

Nurse Case Manager or Health Services Manager

Median Annual Salary in 2022 $104,830 per year
2022-32 Job Growth: 28%
Description: In this position the nurse is typically responsible for planning and directing all of the business activities of the medical office.

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Nurse Practitioners
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$146,050680
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$131,4302,450
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$129,040170
Stockton-Lodi, CA$127,330110
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$123,5704,260

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Scholarships for FNP-DNP Programs

Scholarships may be one way for students to obtain the education they need with some financial support. Financial aid may be available to those qualify. From a Bachelor in Science in Nursing through a DNP program, there may be scholarships available to those who qualify. Those seeking a nursing degree should look at all available scholarship opportunities. Some may qualify for more than one. These are typically funds you may not have to repay but that may cover the cost of tuition, books, or other needs. Here are some examples for those in this field.

ENA Foundation Graduate Scholarship Program

Value: $3,909
Deadline: April 28
Description: This award is for students who are in good standing as a member of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). Students must be pursuing an MSN and have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA as well.

A Nurse I Am Scholarship

Value: This is a $2,000 non renewable scholarship. There may be up to seven recipients for this award.
Deadline: March 31
Description: This award is for any student who is in nursing school anywhere in the US. The applicant for the award may need to watch the “A Nurse I Am” documentary in either the 32 or 62 minute version. It is recommended that the applicant watch both videos.

WiseGeek Nurse Appreciation Scholarship

Value: This is a $500 one time non renewable scholarship.
Deadline: December 31
Description: This scholarship is for current or prospective nursing students. This is open to all levels of secondary students. The purpose of this scholarship is to help offset loans and tuition.

Tylenol Future Care Scholarship

Value: There are a total of 40 scholarships that are awarded. There are ten for $10,000 and 30 for $5,000. These scholarships are for one year and they are non renewable.
Deadline: June 27
Description: This scholarship program is designed to help those students who have already completed at least one of ear of school in a healthcare program. The primary basis for this award may be demonstration of leadership as well as academic performance.

CastleBranch – GNSA Scholarship

Value: There are four scholarships awarded per your in increments of $2,500 per semester. This scholarship is non renewable.
Deadline: December 30
Description: This scholarship is for students in a graduate nursing program that is an AACN member institution. In order to be eligible the student must have at least a 3.5 GPA. If not a member already winners must join the AACN Graduate Student Nursing Academy (GNSA) and make a post summarizing their essay.

Which degree should you pursue?

Before making any decision, think about the type of work and the people you wish to help. Consider the annual salary goals you have, but also the amount of satisfaction you get from various types of roles. Here is a look at some degree options to consider.

MSN – FNP Degree

Those who are a NP may find that a family practice is the perfect choice for them. With an MSN degree, experience improves and a student is likely to be better prepared for an advanced practice nursing degree with a focus on family medicine. This may include more focus on women, children, elderly, or adult care.

DNP – FNP Degree

The DNP – FNP degree goes one step further. It aims to provide more education and experience to allow a student to complete in leadership roles in the advanced practice position. Students may take courses in areas such as data management systems and decision making. They may also learn more about economic markets, health promotion, and health care organizations.

Top States for Employment for Nurse Practitioners
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York13,450$115,030

Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Nursing or General Healthcare (that includes Nursing): This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer or guarantee of employment and that may help prepare students to meet the licensing or certification requirements of the field they choose to study. Students should check with the appropriate licensing or certifying body to make sure the program they apply to will help meet any licensing or certification requirements. Students should also consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.

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